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A Call for Geopark Runners!

On Saturday the 7th of October a group of Geopark runners will run the perennially popular Coigach Half Marathon to support the North West Highlands Geopark and its communities.

The North West Highlands Geopark half marathon runners concept was initiated this spring by Rock Stop visitor centre staff members Helen and Jonathan. The Rock Stop staff wanted to participate in a regional event that would enable remote Geopark communities to come together for camaraderie and the good of common causes. We live in the most sparsely populated region of Europe. Interaction and unity amongst our small and isolated communities is a precious thing! So Helen and Jonathan chose the Coigach Half Marathon with it’s breathtakingly beautiful course around the Coigach peninsula.

Our Geopark running team would be delighted to welcome fellow runners into the group from both within and outwith the Geopark region. All ages and abilities can participate with us on the run through what is probably Britain’s most scenic half marathon course.

If you’d like to join the Geopark runners, then please email the following address for more information: projects@nwhgeopark.com

We’d also be very grateful if you took a moment to browse our Just Giving web page and consider supporting us in the endeavour without having to put your running shoes on!

For more information on the Coigach Half Marathon, please visit their official website here.


Photo credit: Tim Hamlet, from the Coigach & Assynt Sense of Place Toolkit

Introducing our new Geopark Manager

You may have read in our Spring Newsletter that Geopark Manager Dr Laura Hamlet will be leaving us in July for new ventures. We are delighted to now introduce Fiona Saywell as our new Geopark Manager!

Fiona lives in Drumbeg and brings with her a wealth of experience and skills. A geologist by background, she began working in the North West Highlands as a Ranger in the summer months. Following this she has delivered outdoor and indoor learning programmes as a teacher, helped set up and deliver the successful CALLP programme of projects, delivered interpretation tours at Knockan Crag, worked for Culag Community Woodland Trust as their Project Officer and with Assynt Development Trust on the Regional Land Use Partnership pilot project and much, much more that will set her up for more success to come.

A message from Fiona:

“Thank you to the Geopark team for their warm welcome, and for all they have done to establish the Geopark as an exemplar of a community organisation for the North West Highlands.

Having lived here for the past 20 years, combining bringing up my family and working in the area, I have come to appreciate how important it is to increase the resilience of the communities of the area for the future. Building a deeper knowledge and understanding, whilst also developing new ways of working with local, national and international groups, will help to create a more secure future for the generations to come. I see the Geopark as being able to assist with this through its charitable objectives.

I am very much looking forward to continuing the work of the Geopark charity together with the staff team and Board of Directors, to facilitate responsible and ethical community development through the cultural and natural wealth of our home.”



Banner photo: VisitScotland / Airborne Lens

New Geopark leaflet coming soon!

Our popular “A Guide to the North West Highlands Geopark” information leaflet is being updated this year. We have made some necessary updates to the information and updated the Geopark map. Follow the link below to take a look at our new leaflet:


Let us know what you think! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or email us at info@nwhgeopark.com

Once finalised, our new leaflet will be available as a download on our website here.


Banner photo: Airborne Lens / VisitScotland

Call for Evidence on Highland Climate Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience Data

Highland Adapts Call for Evidence on Highland Climate Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience Data

Highland Adapts is a regional partnership bringing our communities, businesses, land managers and public sector together to facilitate transformational action towards a prosperous, climate-ready Highland.

Highland Adapts are sending out a call for evidence to collate climate change adaptation data from across the Highland region and invites you to share any data you may have in relation to climate risk, vulnerability, and resilience. Climate change is already resulting in an increase in extreme weather events such as flooding, droughts, wildfires and heatwaves, as well as rising sea levels, and these are all expected to increase in frequency and severity over the coming years. To enable and inform the development of locally-appropriate solutions, we are seeking to better understand the current levels of preparedness and resilience across the Highland region.


Data Sharing

All data shared will be securely held and used to inform the Highland Climate Risk and Opportunity Assessment. The outcomes from this assessment will be shared openly to ensure all sectors and bodies have access to and benefit from this crucial work.

The submission deadline for data is December 31st 2022. If you require more time to compile your data, please let us know. If your files can be shared via email, please send them to Harper Loonsk (harper.loonsk@highland.gov.uk). Please also contact Harper if you would like help setting up an alternative method for your file transfer.


What kind of data are we looking for?

This call for evidence is looking to gather information and data on the following areas, which are non-exhaustive but included for illustrative purposes:

  • Key organisational and / or community-level climate vulnerabilities and levels of preparedness in respect of extreme weather events;
  • Supply chain opportunities and vulnerabilities arising as a result of the changing climate;
  • Any recent examples of climate impacts to you, your research area, your organisation or community, or “near misses”;
  • Financial impacts (real or anticipated) in order to respond to or prepare for changes to the climate;
  • Gaps in national policy or availability of data which would help your organisation better prepare for change.

If you have some information or data which you feel could be relevant but are unsure if it’s what we’re looking for, please contact us to discuss.



Highland Adapts is a regional climate change adaptation partnership to bring our communities, land managers, businesses, and public sector together to facilitate transformational action towards a prosperous and climate-ready Highland. To maximise the value of the partnership, a critical workstream is to develop an evidence-based, people-centred climate risk and opportunity assessment. A summary of the methodology for phase 1 of this assessment can be found here.

It is imperative that this assessment builds on the climate adaptation work that has already been carried out in the region and adds value to this rather than duplicate, hence the importance of collating all the existing data and evidence as stage 1 of the process. In addition, we will also be using data collated out with the region, for example, the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 3. If you have national data that you think is relevant or that we may not be aware of, please also signpost us to this.

We really appreciate your commitment to this assessment and will seek to ensure that once it is published it will be a valuable resource to as many individuals, communities, businesses and public sector partners as possible. As the assessment progresses, there will be further opportunities to be involved; we very much see this process as a journey we are all on that Highland Adapts is helping to facilitate.



Banner photo: Tim Hamlet

2022 Annual Report

Our 2022 Annual General Meeting of the North West Highlands Geopark took place last Thursday 27th October. We were very pleased to welcome a fantastic turn out from our Friends and Members! Thank you to everyone who attended and special thanks to Highland Stoneware for a fascinating presentation on their geological glazes project (you can find out more about the geological glazes on their website here).

If you missed the AGM, why not have a read through our Annual Report? It’s been a transformational year for the Geopark – find out what we’ve been up to, and our plans going forward, here.

Please share our Annual Report far and wide, with your friends and family! We’d also love to hear your feedback.

If you’d like to keep up to date with our news and events throughout the year, you can subscribe to our mailing list and receive our quarterly newsletter. Join our mailing list here. Our latest issue is: 2022 Issue 3 – Autumn 


Cover photo: Triaxial blend glazes made with Gneiss and Limestone, by Highland Stoneware.

AGM 2022

Notice is hereby given that the 2022 Annual General Meeting of the North West Highlands Geopark will take place on:

Thursday 27th October @ 7:00pm

The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom video conference.

Come and join us to hear an update on our work! All are welcome to attend, although only registered Members Of the Geopark will have the ability to vote on proposed resolutions. Find out more about becoming a Member of the Geopark.

In addition to the AGM Meeting there will be a talk hosted by Highland Stoneware (David Grant and Josh Wilson) on their geological glaze project. David explains:

At Highland Stoneware, we fire our kiln up to 1300 centigrade, which enables us to melt many of the fabulous rocks in our area, which we have all grown to love. The process is akin to remetamorphosing the materials. I originally worked on this while a Post Graduate Student at the Royal College of Art in London in the early 1970s, and in Lochinver in the fledgling days of Highland Stoneware.
We resumed working on it in 2014, and have been delighted and encouraged by the huge interest in the results from our customers, geologists, ceramic academics, and vitally, our employees. Their Creative use of the new glazes has been astonishing, as I hope to illustrate. We invite everyone to have a look at our website as there is more information there.

This is what we call a triaxial blend, and this one is where we have focussed much of our work. The glaze at the top is a Gneiss from the Morefield Quarry in Ullapool. The bottom left is the Limestone from the same Quarry. The bottom right is the Heddle Quarry in Orkney. All the others are proportions of these elements in a grid.

This Triaxial is the basis of what has recently been accepted by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, together with Vases in selected glazes designed by a founding HS Director David, Marquess of Queensberry. Highland Stoneware was recently filmed by Channel 4 with strong focus on the Geological Glazes, and is scheduled to be shown in Spring. We were delighted last year to win a Highly Commended award for a Geological Glaze design by the prestigious Mino International Ceramics competition in Japan. This was developed by Riona in Ullapool.”

Find out more about Geological Glazes – Made From Scotland.


Do you live in the North West Highlands Geopark? Or have a strong connection to the area? Become a Member of the Geopark!

Membership is free and will allow you to vote at the AGM, nominate and elect people to serve as directors, or even serve yourself if this is where your interests lie.

Membership is open to anyone who lives within the Geopark’s boundaries and is over 16 and on the electoral roll. If you do not live within the Geopark but have a strong connection or interest in the area, you can still apply and tell us why you’d like to become a member. The directors will consider each application for membership.

The North West Highlands Geopark Ltd is a Charity and all Charities need sound governance. Our Charity particularly needs the support and interest of the communities it serves. So if you believe in the value of the Geopark, then please come and stand with us as a member. As a member you will be showing potential funders that you value the Geopark and the work of the Charity.

Should you wish to become a Member of The Geopark and participate in this AGM you can register using the link below.

Register to become a Member Of The Geopark


Photo credit: (banner) Airborne Lens and VisitScotland, (geological glazes) Highland Stoneware

Three-year funding success for the North West Highlands Geopark

A three-year programme of activities to inspire and help people to Access, Connect and Take part in the heritage of the North West Highlands Geopark is set to go ahead after securing £234,405 in funding.

Community led charity North West Highlands Geopark Ltd has announced the two funding awards to support their ACT Geopark project. The organisation has secured £174,243 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. They have also been awarded £61,162 from the SSE Renewables Sustainable Development Fund. The grants will support an exciting heritage programme, ACT Geopark, in West Sutherland and northern Wester Ross. The programme will give more people the opportunity to connect with the landscape through art, storytelling, and citizen science. Beginning in July 2022, the programme will run for three years until Summer 2025.

The full range of activities can now take place thanks also to support committed earlier by the Highland Coastal Communities Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund ‘Together for Our Planet’, EB Scotland, and Foundation Scotland through The David Doig and The Essentia Foundations. In total, these organisations, have committed more than £315,000 between them.

Activities will begin with the recruitment of a full time Education and Engagement Officer for three years, funded by the SSE Renewables Sustainable Development Fund grant, The National Lottery Community Fund and The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, made possible by money raised by National Lottery players. This will allow the Charity to work more closely with schools, supporting the curriculum and embedding local examples into history, art, geography, and science teaching.  It will also develop an out of school ‘Young Geologists Club’, engaging and upskilling young people in their world-class landscape.

Using the support committed by the Highland Coastal Communities Fund grant, the Geopark Charity will work with local people to share Marine Heritage stories and bring communities together that were traditionally connected by the sea. Following consultation over the past year, The Charity intends these activities to be primarily for local people, and not with a strong tourism focus. Instead concentrating on enhancing wellbeing and health benefits.

The Charity will also develop a Pilgrim’s Trail, Sense of Place toolkits, Artist-in-Residencies, and community path development planning.  There will be many opportunities over the next three years for local people to join events, contribute knowledge and learn new skills.  The Artist-in-Residencies will bring a new perspective to landscape interpretation, combining with geoscientists and local people to express why the Geopark is a special place. In addition, there will be training opportunities for Geopark Ambassadors, staff and volunteers in marine heritage, place-names, and climate action planning.

Commenting on the award, Geopark Chair Dr Iain Young said: “We are thrilled to have received this support from all of our funders. This is a great vote of confidence in our plans which has only been made possible by all of the people who have supported the Geopark over many years.”

Geopark Manager, Dr Laura Hamlet said: “We are of course thrilled that the programme we’ve been developing together for quite a long time has attracted so much support from funders. It’s quite humbling in fact, and now comes the hard work in delivering it all, but I’m really looking forward to getting involved in Sense of Place events and seeing the Young Geologist’s Club get up and running!”

Caroline Clark, National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for Scotland, said: “ACT Geopark imaginatively brings together a programme that will engage both the local community and visitors in learning about, exploring, enjoying and protecting the heritage of this rugged yet fragile environment. The North West Highland Geopark is very much an initiative driven by local people and it is thanks to National Lottery players that we are able to support the communities’ ambitions for the place they live.”

Lindsay Dougan, Investment Manager and SSE Renewables, said: “SSE Renewables is delighted to support this excellent project which uses the local landscape to enhance young people’s STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) attainment. This project will help young people have the skills and experience for the jobs of the future.”

Above; Geopark team members Iain Young (Chair), Jean MacKay (director), Natasha Hutchison (Lochbroom community director), Pete Harrison (Geopark Geologist), Chris McNeil (Voluntary IT manager), Jonathan Archer (Project officer), Ann Macleod (Coigach community director), and Laura Hamlet (Geopark Manager).


About the North West Highlands Geopark

North West Highlands Geopark Ltd is the Charity that manages UNESCO status for the North West Highlands. Directors and staff are rooted in the local community. They are a group of local people who are involved in the Charity because they care passionately about the area and want to see it thrive—economically, socially, culturally, and environmentally. The North West Highlands Geopark is one of only two UNESCO Global Geoparks in Scotland. The landscapes, underpinned by an incredible variety of rock types, hold the memory of the earth and the future of people.  The rocks tell us how the planet works and help us understand our place within it.

Its vision is for the North West Highlands to become a thriving and sustainable rural economy capitalising on the assets and people of the Geopark in partnership with local government, relevant agencies and local businesses.

It’s mission is: “To celebrate, conserve and promote our unique, internationally recognised geological heritage in a manner consistent with our status as a Scottish Registered Charity and UNESCO accreditation. We are visibly embedded in our communities, both local and international, and work alongside trusted partners who share our values and aspirations. In so doing, we aspire to use this heritage to help maintain economically sustainable communities, being ever mindful of climate change and wider societal issues.”

The Charity:

  • Manages UNESCO Global Geopark designation
  • Develops and delivers projects and programmes, usually with a range of partners
  • Has a focus on: geo-heritage conservation; promoting the area as a responsible tourism destination, with the emphasis on geoheritage; environmental education; and telling the story of the landscape and its people.
  • Builds networks locally, nationally and internationally to support heritage-led sustainable development in the North West Highlands

You can follow @nwhgeopark on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and use the hashtag #ACTGeopark


About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK.

Photos: Visit Scotland/Airborne Lens


Call for Marine Heritage Researchers

The North West Highlands Geopark Ltd is embarking on an ambitious new project to interpret the Marine Heritage of the Geopark. This is both natural, and cultural. We are seeking researchers who would be interested in helping us gather the necessary stories, histories and information to develop the following outputs;
• A website, trail guide, learning packs, training programme and other supporting administrative and physical infrastructure.
• A special training programme for local communities and businesses, offering advice and instruction on how to make the most of the many natural and cultural assets accessible to visitors along the coast between Lochbroom and Kinlochbervie, and beyond to Durness, Tongue and Skerray.

We are looking to collect content from across the Geopark on marine heritage aspects that include:

  • Oral histories
  • Archival history
  • Folk lore/ legends
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Geology
  • Contemporary culture

(This is not an exhaustive list, and we would welcome creative suggestions).

For further information download the brief here: Marine Heritage Research Brief

Deadline for proposals: 9th September 2022

Photo credit: Tim Hamlet, as part of the Coigach & Assynt Sense of Place Toolkit.

We are hiring an Education & Engagement Officer!

We are looking for someone to fill the role of NWHG Education & Engagement Officer – to work with communities in the Geopark to engage them with the ACT Geopark program and climate action activities.

This is an important opportunity for an enthusiastic and hardworking individual to work closely with the Geopark Manager, Geopark Geologist, North West Sutherland schools, communities in the North West Highlands Geopark and visitors to involve them in the ACT Geopark (Access, Connect & Take-part in the Geopark) programme.

The ACT Geopark programme will deliver a suite of projects over a three-year period to help people access, connect with, and take part in UNESCO Global Geopark activities. The main outputs of the program will be educational enrichment for school age children, a young geologist’s club, a marine heritage ‘blue route’ and a pilgrim’s trail. Alongside these we will work with artists and makers to communicate the significance of the region’s geological heritage to a wider audience than ever before, helping communities and visitors to form deeper connections with their landscapes through arts and science communication.

Full job description and how to apply: NWHG Education & Engagement officer Application pack

Closing date for applications: 25th August 2022

Shortlist date: 7th September 2022

Interview date: 14th September 2022

For further information contact: laura@nwhgeopark.com

Discussion and questions are welcome before the closing date.


Photo credit: Visit Scotland, Airborne Lens


We are hiring!

The Rock Stop is hiring for the 2022 season!

Would you like to join the team at our cafe, shop and exhibition centre situated right in the heart of the Geopark? We’d love to hear from you! We are currently looking for a year-round manager and seasonal retail and catering team members to join the Rock Stop team.

For more information on the Rock Stop and our current job opportunities, please visit our Recruitment page: